Oklahoma football head coach Bob Stoops is retiring after 18 years at the helm of the Sooners program. The news was broken Wednesday afternoon by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel and later confirmed by WWLS, which spoke directly with Stoops. Stoops reportedly has a meeting scheduled with his team for 2:30 p.m. local time to break the news in person.
Stoops’s run atop the Oklahoma included six Big 12 coach of the year awards, 10 conference titles, the 2000 national championship, some bad opinions on paying college players, and a pair of Heisman-trophy winning quarterbacks in Jason White and Sam Bradford. He will wrap his tenure as the winningest coach in Oklahoma history, as he retires with a record of 190-48.
The news comes as a shock—college football is supposed to be sleeping this time of year!—and was followed by another one: The Sooners will name 33-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley as his replacement. Riley, who previously coached at Texas Tech and East Carolina, has headed Oklahoma’s offense the past two seasons; he will now take over a major Power Five program in the first head coaching gig of his career.
No definitive reason for the abruptness of Stoops’s retirement have surfaced yet; according to Fox Sports, Stoops stepped down in order to “go live life.” If there happens to be another reason for the retirement, feel free to contact us.
Update (4:20 p.m. EST): Stoops and Oklahoma made the retirement official, posting statements from the AD, school president, and board of regents chairman on the Sooners athletics website. Stoops’s full statement can be found below:
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year’s recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition.
“The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I’m grateful for this season of my life, and feel I’ve fulfilled my purpose here at OU as its head football coach. “I’m thankful that my career at Oklahoma was marked with consistent leadership in President David Boren and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione. It’s extremely rare in college athletics to have no change in these leadership positions over a nearly 20-year span. I always appreciated the way both of them supported me and our program. They both played an enormous role in all our successes.
“I have been very fortunate to have such outstanding coaches in my time at OU. Our players have always benefitted from their strong leadership, on and off the field. I was also blessed with a strong support staff - strength and conditioning, equipment, sports medicine, academics, video - every aspect of our program was staffed with very talented people who took a great deal of pride in making Oklahoma football the best.
“I’m especially thankful for being able to coach so many talented young men over my 18 years here. It has been so rewarding to see these players come to OU and mature over a four or five-year career, and not just on the field. To play a small part in their growth is what I will always cherish the most. None of my success would have happened without the best fans in the country. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the 110 consecutive home sellouts. The passion of our fan base is unmatched, and their support has played a huge role in not only home games, but road games and all 18 of our bowl games, as well.
“Lastly, I’d like to thank my wife, Carol, and my daughter, Mackie, and my sons, Drake and Isaac. They have been a major part of this success. Being the wife or child of a coach is often tough, and they’ve all been strong through both good times and challenging times.
“The coaching life is like a relay race and I’m thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman - it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!